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Author Topic: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?  (Read 3079 times)

pixyl

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Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« on: June 02, 2013, 08:38:55 AM »
I'm aiming for a career within people photography (portraiture of various kinds in-/outdoors, the occasional wedding etc.) and wonder which lens(es) to get next. I will also be photographing food, architecture, lanscape, products etc. but people photography will be my main thing. My gear so far:

- Canon 50D (hoping to upgrade to full-frame, most likely a 5D III)
- Canon 70-200 f/4L (great IQ though with a crop body I seldom use it)
- Canon 35 f/2
- Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5

The Sigma is getting pretty worn and I don't particularly like it, which means I'm looking for a "bread & butter" zoom for general use. I'm considering the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II, Canon 24-105 f/4L and possibly a 50mm f/1.4 (I'm leaning towards the Sigma instead of Canon because it just seems better built and I hear it also gives a better result whenever copies of it don't have focusing issues) for shallow DOF/low light shots.
To make choices even more difficult there's Canon's 24-70 f4L, Sigma's 24-70 and Tamron's 24-70 (with IS). I can get the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II at a special price now, and I have a feeling that despite the missing IS and the missing added reach which the 24-105 has that this is a "keeper" and something which can boost the quality of my shots. The Tamron seems like a good buy on paper but I'm skeptical towards the brand itself and having tried it I don't like the reverse zoom compared to Canon's lenses and the placement of the focus ring. I don't know enough about Sigma's 24-70 but have heard a lot of good stuff about the Canon.
My 35mm f/2 is OK, but feels cheap and not very inspirational although I'm beginning to like the idea of prime lenses more and more, which is why I'm also considering a 50mm of some sort in addition to a general/use for everything "bread & butter" zoom (I'm ruling out Canon 50mm f/1.8 as that would be similar to my 35mm in build quality, and also the f/1.2L version because of the price).

So, would it be a good decision to go for the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II and possibly also the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 in addition (or leave out the 50mm for the time being), or would you go for the 24-105 and 50mm as well as possibly other primes, or something entirely different?

Oh, I'm working on my flash photography skills, so although I do like natural light I'm not one of those "I only use natural light" photographers and hence don't feel the need to go with fast, expensive lenses all the way.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2013, 08:41:35 AM by pixyl »
50D w/BG-E2 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 70-200 f/4L | 35 f/2 | Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 | Sigma 50 f/1.4 | 580EX II | 430EX

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Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« on: June 02, 2013, 08:38:55 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 08:59:38 AM »
For portraits where you can't control the background (as you can in a studio), a wide aperture is important for subject isolation. That's especially true on a crop body - an f/2.8 lens on APS-C is equivalent to f/4.5 on FF.  So, I'd be looking at f/2.8 lenses, not f/4.

You haven't said anything about your lighting gear, and for many portrait settings that's much more important than the lens.  You may want to consider an off-camera multi-flash setup, stands, modifiers, etc., first...
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alexanderferdinand

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2013, 01:09:23 PM »
Cheapest: 50/1,8. Bit better the 1,4.
85/1,8 is very good too, can be too long on a crop.

Think about Neuro's advice of creating your own light.
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procentje20

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2013, 01:29:12 PM »
..... That's especially true on a crop body - an f/2.8 lens on APS-C is equivalent to f/4.5 on FF......

The optical effects of a lens happen before it hits the sensor, so sensor size has nothing to do with DOF. Subject distance however does have an effect, with a 50mm on ff you would be closer to the subject to get the same shot.

On topic: i use a 24-70 2.8 for portrait. And tend to never zoom out from 70mm. So i guess a prime would be fine for that.

I also do a lot of product (wife has a cake baking company) photography, and tend to use my 70-200 for that so i dont need a large backdrop to fill the shot. The perspective of a long lens gives me the ability to just use s 3 foot wooden panel as a backdrop. A panel that fits nicely behind the couch, ready when i need it.

I must add that i have the version 1 of the 24-70, becouse apart from weight and price, i cannot see any difference between the lenses. The IQ difference is not something my eyes can detect.
5DIII | 8-15/4  | 28/1.8 | 50/1.4 | 85 1.8 | 150-600/5-6.3 | 35-80/4-5.6 PZ | Canonet 28

ecka

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2013, 02:13:09 PM »
The whole "buying-FF-lenses-now-and-maybe-upgrading-to-FF-later" thing seems pointless. 24-70/2.8 on FF is equivalent to 15-44/1.8 on crop, which suggests that you need a whole range of primes on APS-C to match a FF with just two f/2.8 zooms (like 24-70 and 70-200). While 5D3 +24-105/4 can easily replace your 50D+17-70/2.8-4.5 , 50D + 24-70/2.8 and even 50D + 35/2.
I would sell 50D, 17-70, 35/2 and buy 5D3, 24-70/2.8, 85/1.8.
FF + primes !

privatebydesign

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2013, 02:19:19 PM »
Quote
The optical effects of a lens happen before it hits the sensor, so sensor size has nothing to do with DOF. Subject distance however does have an effect, with a 50mm on ff you would be closer to the subject to get the same shot.

That might be the case were not dof a measurement from a standard reproduction size. That necessitates enlargement and a smaller sensor requires more enlargement for the same reproduction, this means to maintain an equal coc figure, for the same sized output, the smaller sensor must have a smaller coc figure even behind the same lens. This means dof is not constant across sensors.

The term Neuro used was equivalent, and that is true. http://www.josephjamesphotography.com/equivalence/

P.S. OP just get a 50 f1.8 and see what you need from there.

 
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2013, 02:21:19 PM »
..... That's especially true on a crop body - an f/2.8 lens on APS-C is equivalent to f/4.5 on FF......

The optical effects of a lens happen before it hits the sensor, so sensor size has nothing to do with DOF. Subject distance however does have an effect, with a 50mm on ff you would be closer to the subject to get the same shot.

But then the perspective would be different.  So either you use a different focal length (e.g., 135mm on FF vs 85mm on APS-C), or change the distance (and perspective).  Either way, to achieve the same framing, DoF is thinner on FF for a given f/stop. That's what 'equivalent' means.
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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2013, 02:21:19 PM »

distant.star

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2013, 02:26:04 PM »
.
While not related so much to equipment, here's interesting advice from someone I know who spent a lifetime doing portrait photography:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/1825769@N21/discuss/72157633187391030/

Hope it's helpful.
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pixyl

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2013, 02:34:41 PM »
an f/2.8 lens on APS-C is equivalent to f/4.5 on FF.  So, I'd be looking at f/2.8 lenses, not f/4.

I hadn't thought of that. Good point! As others have said though I understand it has more to do with perspective than sensor size. Then again you'd change perspective at the same focal length because of the crop size.

Quote
You haven't said anything about your lighting gear, and for many portrait settings that's much more important than the lens.  You may want to consider an off-camera multi-flash setup, stands, modifiers, etc., first...

Yes, I'm steadily investing in lighting gear. This is what I've got:
- Elinchrom 500 BXRi studio strobe kit (two strobes, stands, softboxes, radio trigger) -don't use it much since it's a hassle to move around and I've been shooting at client's homes
- Canon 580EX II Speedlite
- Canon 430 EX Speedlite
- Phottix Ares (manual) radio trigger, 2x receivers
- 30cm off-camera TTL cord
- 5m off-camera TTL cord for multiple flashes (Pixel Componor)
- Lastolite Hotrod Octa 70cm softbox
- 105cm shoot-through umbrella
- 83cm shoot-through umbrella
- 83cm reflective umbrella
- stands and Manfrotto swivel adapters for Speedlites
- ebay reflector (around 1m diameter I think)

I'm just starting to get into flash but probably have enough lighting gear to get me going for a while.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2013, 02:36:46 PM by pixyl »
50D w/BG-E2 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 70-200 f/4L | 35 f/2 | Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 | Sigma 50 f/1.4 | 580EX II | 430EX

ecka

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2013, 02:36:24 PM »
..... That's especially true on a crop body - an f/2.8 lens on APS-C is equivalent to f/4.5 on FF......

The optical effects of a lens happen before it hits the sensor, so sensor size has nothing to do with DOF. Subject distance however does have an effect, with a 50mm on ff you would be closer to the subject to get the same shot.


Wrong.
The right way of comparing APS-C and FF DoF is to keep the same distance and framing. When using the same focal length, sensor size has everything to do with subject distance you will want to shoot it from. While at the same distance crop needs a wider lens with a wider aperture to match the FF. Try FF+135/2 vs APS-C+85/1.2 ;)
FF + primes !

bholliman

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2013, 03:01:39 PM »
Since you will be moving to full format in the near future, I'd recommend starting with the excellent 24-70 2.8 II lens.  Canon's 24-70 2.8 version II is much sharper with less distortion than the version I and a great all around lens.  If you were staying with a crop sensor for some time the 17-55 2.8 is a great lens.

As Neuro pointed out, you want to go with a fast lens that help you isolate your subject.  A 35mm 1.4 (Sigma or Canon) will be great for environmental, group and full body shots.  The 85mm 1.2 and 135mm 2.0 are terrific for tighter portraits.  The 135L might be too long for your crop body unless you have lots of room to work with (maybe outdoors).
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procentje20

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2013, 03:03:07 PM »
..... That's especially true on a crop body - an f/2.8 lens on APS-C is equivalent to f/4.5 on FF......

The optical effects of a lens happen before it hits the sensor, so sensor size has nothing to do with DOF. Subject distance however does have an effect, with a 50mm on ff you would be closer to the subject to get the same shot.


Wrong.
The right way of comparing APS-C and FF DoF is to keep the same distance and framing. When using the same focal length, sensor size has everything to do with subject distance you will want to shoot it from. While at the same distance crop needs a wider lens with a wider aperture to match the FF. Try FF+135/2 vs APS-C+85/1.2 ;)

Ah, i see. Its jargon. Not very scientific, but hey, i'll adjust to it. If this is the way cameras are compared it will just be confusing if I stick to my method.

Its a bit like the wierd 'crop gives you extra reach' misconception. I've given up on that one too.

But back on topic. People are mentioning buying a 50mm 1.8. I have to say, buy the version 1 metal mount (keep looking for a decent copy) or go for the 1.4. My experiance is that autofocus in a studio setup (low light during focus) can have a hard time with the 1.8 version 2.
5DIII | 8-15/4  | 28/1.8 | 50/1.4 | 85 1.8 | 150-600/5-6.3 | 35-80/4-5.6 PZ | Canonet 28

neuroanatomist

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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2013, 03:27:34 PM »
Ah, i see. Its jargon. Not very scientific, but hey, i'll adjust to it. If this is the way cameras are compared it will just be confusing if I stick to my method.

Not jargon, but rather comparing apples to apples.  In this case, that means a comparison based on capturing the same subject framing and perspective with both cameras. 

A comparison that involves different framing or a different perspective doesn't make much sense.
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Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2013, 03:27:34 PM »